A society cannot continue to function in a stable and peaceful fashion when a class divide separates one group from another and when the opportunities presented to the individual is determined by the family into which the individual is born. Where a great percentage of a population is born into a society where they are given no opportunities to improve their lives the people will rise up in revolution if no peaceful resolution is actively pursued.
This occurrence has been found and documented many times throughout the course of human history and is underlined by Sociology expert, Louis Gottschalk’s paper on the causes of revolution in the American Journal of Sociology.
I would like to argue that the current education in South Africa is resulting in a class divide as severe and tangible as any historic class divide. My reasoning for behind this argument is based on the clearly documented gap in educational quality of private and model C schools and public schools.
The quality of South Africa's maths and science education has been ranked second last in a survey of 133 countries by the World Economic Forum, while our private schools are lauded for their quality global educational standards and boasts an average 97% matric pass rate compared to the 30% of public schools according to The Economist. The socio-economic effect of this educational gap is that South Africa is being divided between those who can afford a quality education and those who can’t.
South Africans who have access to the quality education are provided with ample opportunities to pursue a professional career and thereby obtain substantial employment, while South Africans who cannot access quality education have to face incredible odds to overcome their circumstances and avoid become part of the countless left unemployed and destitute.
The ability to afford quality education can therefore be considered one of the most crucial indicators of whether the person would be able to gain proper employment and establish a quality lifestyle in South Africa as presented by Econ3x3’s findings that 6% of graduates are unemployed compared with the total unemployment figures around 40% for the country.
There will always be the exceptional stories of individuals who manage to overcome their circumstances, however with the deck so strongly loaded against people without access to quality education these examples will remain the exception and not the norm for the foreseeable future.
The point I am trying to bring across is that any South African blessed with the opportunities to access quality education has no right to look down on those who received no such opportunities. We as the educated and blessed class of South Africa also have a responsibility to do everything in our power eliminate this class divide for a number of critical reasons:
· - Firstly for the sake of human decency we have a responsibility to reach out and help our fellow man, not just by giving money but by empowering them to shape their own destiny and not merely be a product of their environment and thereby provide them with the opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of the children.
· - Secondly from an economic point of view the lack of education is one of the single greatest inhibitors of economic growth according to the investopedia. This means that your own economic well-being might be directly linked to the level of education provided in South Africa in the long run.
· - And finally for the sake of our own survival; history paints a bleak outlook for the members of an elite class that co-exist with a larger class that aren't presented with the same opportunities.
I therefore urge my fellow South Africans to not turn this into a fight about who is to blame or who should have done what, but rather take hands on this issue and stand together to build a better South Africa for all.
PS: There is one final point I would like to make clear, this argument has NOTHING to do with race. Firstly black children outnumber white children in private schools.
Secondly I’m not placing blame on government, yes they made mistakes but as someone who has been working on the ground on this challenge I understand the overwhelming scale involved and I know there is no quick fix available from the government side but rather a prolonged process required. Also blaming the government is an easy way to avoid our own responsibility and will not help solve the problem.